sport news CHRIS WHEELER: Antony's injury could be Alejandro Garnacho's gain ahead of FA ... trends now
No-one likes to see a player hauled off on a stretcher, and it’s particularly cruel when serious injury strikes the week before a cup final.
You could only sympathise with Antony when the Brazil winger was hurt in the first half of Manchester United’s win over Chelsea on Thursday night following an innocuous challenge from Trevoh Chalobah.
Antony left the pitch on a stretcher in obvious distress and is clearly a doubt for the FA Cup final against Manchester City a week on Saturday. ‘I can tell you it’s serious,’ confided manager Erik ten Hag, but United will wait for 24 hours to discover the full extent of the damage.
City know what Antony can do. He scored an excellent goal at the Etihad in October as United restored a modicum of respectability in a 6-3 derby defeat.
But this has been an up-and-down first season for him following a £82million move from Ajax. Some fans remain unconvinced. For instance, there is not the almost universal sense of excitement when Alejandro Garnacho steps onto the pitch.
Antony's up-and-down debut season ended with the Brazilian being hauled off on a stretcher
Casemiro (right) netted the opener as Manchester United triumphed over Chelsea on Thursday
If Antony is ruled out of the Cup Final, Ten Hag will have a choice to make because one area of the team where he is quite well off is wingers. Common sense says that he will pick Marcus Rashford on the left and Jadon Sancho on the right, two experienced England internationals playing on their preferred sides of the pitch.
But there is no doubt that Antony’s loss could be Garnacho’s gain. At the very least, he may be called off the bench earlier in the game.
We have to be careful about putting too much expectation on the young Argentina international’s shoulders, but he is the kind of character who seems to relish it. He could offer United an x-factor at Wembley that Antony, Sancho and even Rashford cannot.
Garnacho has only just returned to action after suffering an ankle injury of his own. His breakthrough season was interrupted by a challenge from Southampton defender Kyle Walker-Peters in March that left the teenager on the sidelines for seven weeks.
That’s how football works. One door shuts and another door opens. Antony’s absence would be cruel, but United have a very good alternative in Garnacho – and one ready to seize his opportunity.
The £82m star hit the floor in agony following an innocuous challenge from Trevoh Chalobah
His injury means Alejandro Garnacho (right) has a better chance of starting the FA Cup final
Ten Hag deserves